Friday, October 30, 2009

All in a Morning's Walk

"Yes, LORD, walking in the ways of Your laws, we wait for You; Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts." Isaiah 26:8 (NIV)

I feel that I need to start this off with a true confession. Here goes. I've gotten out of the habit of exercise. And it shows. I hit 50 and bottomed out...pun intended! I asked my hubby to help remind encourage me. I prayed for God to help give me the time...or help me see that I really do have the time.

God answered through my 10 year old. Last night, she said, "Please, Mom, can we take a walk??" Well, I was already feeling bad because we were not participating in the school "Corn Maze outing" and that we probably won't do any trick or treating (Is that a downside of having a 50 year old mother?) I put on my walking shoes and said, "Let's go!" We had a nice walking, her zipping past me on her scooter. We chatted with each other whenever she was beside me. We stopped and chatted with neighbors. It was a nice time. So much so, that I thought this morning, "Hmmm, we need to do that again." We did.

We followed our usual path...well, it's usual when I'm disciplined enough to do it. I decided that I'd rather conquer the big hill right off. Man, that's tough. My legs ached. My heart pounded. But I endured. That's when God spoke the first words to me. He said (inaudibly), "The more you do it, the easier it gets." Funny, I had said those very words to Melea this morning as she practiced a difficult piano piece. Yes, those words ring true...for walking, for piano practice, for praying, for studying God's Word, for obeying God, for trusting Him. And I just have to add, for my writer friends out there, that it applies to writing too! (Children's writers, please click on the Write2Ignite icon in the top right hand corner and sign up for our conference!!!)

God also reminded me that we shouldn't give up if we've "fallen off the wagon" with our exercise plan, or our time in His Word, or our prayer life. See, I had started justifying the idea that I had already gotten out of the habit of walking, and that when cold weather gets here that I'm not going to want to continue...just like every year. But...I do have a treadmill...gathering dust upstairs. Okay, so I'm jumping back on the wagon...and hoping to stay...the neighborhood on nice days...treadmill when winter brings blustery ones! Spiritual application: So ladies, if you've fallen behind in your Bible study, don't give up! Don't just quit going. Don't feel like it's hopeless. Get back on the wagon!!!

The next point was that walking is essential...physically and spiritually. It's the only way to stay healthy...and joyful...and feeling good about myself. Just like exercise combats the destruction of osteoporosis, walking in His Word prevents the deterioration the enemy would like to see in our spirits. In the same way that being physically fit will improve my feelings about myself, time in His Word will remind me of the truth of how He sees me...and who I am in Him! As that hill in my neighborhood becomes easier to climb in time, so will my perseverance in the struggles that I face in I remember His strength...and the victories He's accomplished...and the promises He has given.

Oh, and just another thought...whether it's walking or worship or Bible study (or writing!), it helps to have someone to keep us accountable. I know I need that! And the fellowship and encouragement that those who join us brings is just icing on the cake! no icing and no cake...let's just say tremendous blessing!

Father, thank You for Your love for us! Thank You for Your Word to us. Thank You for the many ways that you speak to our hearts! You are amazing! Help us to walk closely by Your side all the days of our lives.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Borrowed Words

"Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name." Psalm 103:1 (NIV)

Yesterday morning as I walked outside, the beauty before me almost took my breath away. I couldn't help but raise my hands in praise to the Creator of that glorious sight. My mind flooded with the words from the great hymn, "Praise to the LORD, the Almighty, the King of Creation!" As I drove my daughter to school, we worshipped together as we joined with Travis Cottrell on his Alive Forever CD! Friend, ponder these words anew. Read them, meditate on them, sing them as a praise offering to our great King!

"Praise to the Lord, the Almighty"
(German hymn by Joachim Neander, 1680)

"Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, Now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord, who o'er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen How all thy longings have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him."

Oh, I do want all that is in me to adore Him...and praise Him, for He is great and greatly to be praised! Won't you join me??? Go to Psalm 103:1-6 and Psalm 150, and be lead to the throne in praise.

LORD, we praise You with all that is in us..gladly...for aye we adore You!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ever Thought of Running Away?

"God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him." James 1:12 (NLT)

So, have you ever thought of running away? When things didn't go as you planned? When the going got your your life???? In times of desperation, failure, overwhelming circumstances many people consider it. It's surely not a new concept. Running away has been considered...and multitudes who've travelled this journey before us. Individuals have run away. Remember Jonah? He didn't just run away from home....He ran from God! Whole armies have run away. That kind of amuses me...musclebound men (in skirts) with weapons running as fast as their hairy legs will carry them.

From the Old Testament to the New, countless people have encouraged others to endure! Great men have felt like running or giving up...even Moses! But Moses' father-in-law, Jethro, gave counsel to Moses and said, "If you follow this advice, and if God commands you to do so, then you will be able to endure the pressures...." (Exodus 18 NLT) We need to seek guidance from God's Word...from Paul and other Heroes of the Faith who remind us that "since we have been justified through faith, we have peace...and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us." (Romans 5:1-5 NIV) Peter says, "So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while." (1 Peter 1:6)

Let's join with the One who understands endurance! "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross...." (Hebrews 12:2 NIV) because of His amazing love for us...a "love that endures forever." (Psalm 106:1 NIV)

So, if you feel like running, don't run away. Run to Jesus.

Our precious heavenly Father, thank You for Your love that endures forever. Thank You for the hope, peace, and joy that we have because of Your unfathomable love! Lord, give us strength to endure, patience to persevere, "love that never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." (1 Corinthians 13:7 NLT)

Friday, October 9, 2009

What Are You Looking At???

"...I focus on this one thing...looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Jesus Christ, is calling us." Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)

I am loving Fall, aren't you?? Aaahhh, the cool breezes, the change in the angle of the sun...and the hues that produces, the crackle of leaves underfoot...and the incredible colors in the trees, the rustle and chattering of squirrels gathering acorns, and that smell...that Fall smell. Aaahh.

I was out for a walk this week, around the lake of Meredith College, enjoying an amazing Autumn day...and getting some much needed exercise. I hadn't been walking long when I realized that my focus was all downward. I was having to concentrate on the ground to avoid the goose poopy. There I was in an amazing setting on a beautiful day, and missing it because of the poopy.

I stopped and just looked around me. Then I looked up. I could almost hear God speaking and saying, "You do that sometimes." I said, "What?" He said, "Get bogged down in your circumstances and forget to look up. You miss the beauty....the glory. You lose the vision of the hope to which I have called the glorious inheritance awaiting you." I said, "Do you see all this poopy around me? How can I keep looking up?" He said, "Trust me....'walk by faith, not by sight.'" 2 Corinthians 5:7 (NASB) I said, "Sometimes I can't." He responded, "I know, but I can. I am 'the lifter of [your] head.'" Psalm 3:3 (KJV)

Yes, I continued to "watch my step" until I got out of the "poopy zone," slowing my pace so that I could also look up to the magnolia and sycamore trees and the deep blue sky, refusing to let what surrounded my feet be my focus.

Do you find yourself buried deep in the circumstances of life and forget to "look up" at the goodness of God? Do you find yourself saying, "I can't?" If you know the great I AM, you can!

Oh Lord, the author, perfecter, and finisher of our faith, lift our heads and our eyes to see Your power, Your presence, and Your glory among us. Help us to "trust Your heart even when we can't see Your hand." Thank You for Your love that knows no bounds, and Your faithfulness to a thousand generations (Deuteronomy 7:9), including our very own. You are great and greatly to be praised!